Historically, the legal department has been seen as a cost centre that performs necessary legal tasks. Fortunately, times are changing, and the legal department is making strides to becoming a strategic business partner. But where do you start? Neota Logic held a roundtable session where in house legal delegates shared ideas on how to make this move:
Define and pursue your mission
In the age of delivering more for less, in house legal departments may struggle to find the time to take a step back and clearly define their purpose and their mission.
It is, however, an essential task and one that will pave the way for your strategy and help you achieve your departmental goals as well as aiding in your decision-making process along the way.
You’ll find the majority of other departments do this and the legal department should be no exception. Your department mission should align with your overall business objectives.
Understand how your legal department operates
In house legal departments should take the time to work out how your business operates in order to identify areas for improvement. When undergoing this process, don’t just look at one function. You should access processes, workflows, content and people. Try to use metrics to measure how tasks are done so you can make a comparison down the line.
One of our panellists suggested starting by looking at how the people in your department operate. Sometimes it’s as easy as thinking about changing attitudes and educating staff about different ways of performing tasks have been traditionally done.
Once you’ve established how your department operates you can identify potential problems, what these problems could mean to the business and begin to look at new ways of doing things.
Technology might not always be the right answer to solve all your problems. Firstly, establish the need for technology in helping you achieve your department and business goals.
Once you’ve established that technology is needed it can be a daunting task selecting a technology provider. Especially cutting through the buzzwords to the real value the technology can bring to your business. Select a well-established provider who will take the time to understand the challenges you face and advise whether their solution can overcome those challenges. There’s not always a ‘one-size fits all’ solution and technology vendors should work with you to establish something more bespoke to fully meet your needs.
Luckily, today there are plenty of SaaS solutions on offer as well as proof of concept trials so you will be able to ‘test’ how the technology performs before fully committing to a longer subscription.
It’s important to remember it’s not the technology that will give you a competitive advantage, it’s how you utilize that technology that will help drive success.
Educate & Collaborate
It’s important to learn from your peers, competitors and colleagues in other departments to spark new ideas about how you could run your department efficiently.
You might find that other departments in your organisation share similar pain points. You could then work together to find a solution that works best for the overall business. Getting budget for new technology is easier if you can find other teams that could benefit from the same solution.
Lastly, increase your knowledge through industry events and create a work environment where your team can share ideas.